Spirit Fall 2017 Winter 2018

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Fall 2017


Winter 2018

In the musical “Hamilton,” as Alexander Hamilton faces Aaron Burr in their fatal duel, Hamilton sings: “Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” The people featured in this magazine have been creating legacies across our campus and our world. Spirit magazine is part of our legacy. Our campus magazine began life as Outlook magazine in 1992. Over nearly eight years, with Sister Angeline Sohler as editor, the magazine grew in scope, thoughtfulness and beauty. The two-color issues often featured a singular focus: Maryville, Valley Catholic, the Sisters or the SSMO Foundation. In 2002, the magazine was redesigned to showcase our entire campus in each issue and to feature full color on the cover. Intriguingly, the theme of the first issue was legacy: “Changing Times, Lasting Values.” Under the leadership of several editors, including Karen Crandal, Spirit magazine evolved over the next decade. In 2013, the magazine was again redesigned to feature a fresh and vibrant look and to share unique stories. With Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA, serving as editor, Spirit has won regional and international awards as it celebrates topics as diverse as journeys, art, a day in the life of our campus and the history of our Community across 130 years. Historic issues of Outlook and Spirit can be enjoyed by visiting ssmoministries.org. “Opening Doors” is one of our favorite issues. The seed for that issue was planted several years earlier by the late Brian Doyle, a gifted storyteller who was the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland. During one of Brian’s frequent visits to our campus, he said, with his keen insight, “Wow! The variety and number of doors you have on this campus are amazing. There’s a story to be told just in looking at these doors.” He was right. In addition to sharing his experiences with our Valley Catholic students and through our Bethany Center series, Brian Doyle generously allowed us to feature several of his poems in Spirit. Funny. Poignant. They were always highlights of the issue. Brian was generous with his praise for our magazine. That was especially gratifying because Brian’s superb work on Portland magazine served as a strong inspiration for today’s Spirit. After Brian’s death, as so many people shared grief at his loss and appreciation for his unique voice, the Catholic Sentinel published a story that Brian had written about a childhood neighbor who spent much of his life in a garden – even when he could no longer kneel, bend or walk – planting and weeding and harvesting. To Brian – and to each person who has generously shared their story or contributed to our campus across the years – thank you for planting your own seeds in a glorious garden of wondrous works and admirable acts, shaping our legacy for generations to come.

Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66 Superior General, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon

Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen President, SSMO Ministries Corporation


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4 Following in the footsteps At St. Francis of Assisi School in Roy, Oregon, Sister Alison Green is part of a legacy dating back more than a century. In Verboort, Oregon, the Sisters Vandecoevering represent a legacy of family and faith.

10 A sense of belonging Three campus alumni now serve as principals at Valley Catholic School. One put it simply: “It’s a home.” 16 The legacy of care A warm welcome from Sister Geraldine Bernards inspired two health care professionals to come to Maryville and, later, to return.

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20 Celebrating God and life Signature events for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus honor the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future. 22 Respect for faith A practicing Muslim, Zahra Babar ’86 cites the faith-based education offered on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus as an influence in her work for the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. 25 Alumni Notes

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Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen, President

Questions, comments or address changes: SSMO Ministries Corporation 4440 SW 148th Avenue Beaverton, OR 97078 503-644-9181 | spirit@ssmoministries.org

Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66, Superior General Editor: Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA

Cover: Sister Alison Green and student Makayla Trapp at St. Francis of Assisi School. Back cover: Sister Rosina Pham (left) and Sister Thanh Pham at the grotto on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. Special thanks to St. Francis of Assisi School in Roy and Visitation Catholic Church in Verboort for their support of this issue.

Graphic designer: Megan Zimmer Photographers/Videographers: Alysha Beck, Gavin Dunham, Megan Zimmer Contributors: Liz Kiefer McDevitt ’11, Lizette Santiago The award-winning Spirit magazine is published by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries. All rights reserved.


Following in the footsteps W

hen Sister Alison Green walks into her classroom at St. Francis of Assisi School in Roy, Oregon, she is following in the footsteps of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon who have served in the school for more than 100 years.

In her classroom, Sister Alison teaches the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic – plus science and religion. “The students and families at St. Francis School are predominantly Catholic and practicing Catholic,” Sister Alison said. “When I take students to Adoration, they generally know what that is.”

The school was established by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in September 1912. From opening day through 1999, Sisters served at the school continuously. In 2014, when Sister Alison joined the staff as a fifth- and sixthgrade classroom teacher, the legacy continued.

She said, “There’s a saying: ‘Faith is something that can’t be taught. It has to be caught.’ St. Francis School really has that spirit where you catch faith.” “The legacy that I have in Roy is different than the one I have at Visitation,” said Sister Alison. “We have a very special relationship with that parish. Much of that is because of families – the Vandecoeverings and others.”

When the school day ends, Sister Alison travels four miles to Verboort, where she climbs the stairs to her room in the convent area of a building owned by Visitation Catholic Church. It is the same building where Sister Agnes Marie, Sister Anne and Sister Clare Vandecoevering – Sisters by birth as well as Community – lived, taught and served during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

“I know about Sisters Agnes and Alexia O’Rourke going into the Verboort community to minister during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1917,” she said. “My ministry in Verboort is not one of giving so


much as receiving – receiving their caring ministry and generosity towards me because of the special relationship my Community has with the parish. That is humbling.”

“ I get to be part of our history.”

– Sister Alison Green

Mother Theresa Heuberger, Sister Mary Anthony Heuberger and Sister Bernadine Eyer were the first Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon to teach in Roy. Many others have followed. “I still find teaching materials used by other Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon over the years,” she said. “I see their names ­– from Sister Mary Ann Hathaway to Sister Charlene Herinckx.” “I get to be part of our history,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to walk into our school and say, ‘This is us.’”

Page 3 : Sister Alison with student Joseph Crowell. Page 4: Sister Alison and student Ceona Kloepping. Right: Inspiring a new generation: Sister Alison Green with student – and “Sister teacher” – Grace Hertel. Sister Alison provided the habit. Grace made the white veil. Below (left to right): Sister Alison Green, Sister Agnes Marie Vandecoevering and Sister Anne Vandecoevering in the chapel of the Visitation Convent.



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A legacy of family and faith T

o the Sisters Vandecoevering, Verboort is family. “It’s my birthplace,” said Sister Anne Vandecoevering. “It’s where I was born. These are my relatives. These are my people.”

In 1980, amid concerns that Visitation Catholic School might close, Sister Anne returned to her hometown to serve as school principal. She held that role for five years. Sister Clare came to Visitation as

Sister Anne, Sister Agnes Marie and Sister Clare Vandecoevering are sisters by blood and by faith. They are three of 14 Vandecoevering children born and raised in Verboort. Sister Clare was in her early teens when she entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Community. Her sisters soon followed. They all taught in Catholic schools across Oregon and in Washington state. They also taught summer religious classes. “Sister Anne was the organizer,” said Sister Clare. “Sister Agnes Marie was the artist and I did the teaching.”


“It has been a true blessing that they have been with us for so many years,” he said. “They will always be in our thoughts and prayers.” Verboort will always be in the Sisters’ thoughts and prayers. “The people have been so good to us,” said Sister Agnes Marie. “We love them all.”

a teacher in 1990. Sister Agnes Marie arrived at the school several years later, teaching religion for first through third grades. Even after retiring from teaching, the three Sisters stayed active at the school. Sister Agnes Marie worked in the lunchroom, Sister Clare worked in the school archives and Sister Anne supported students in math and computer classes. They lived on the second floor of a convent next to the parish church. That building now includes school offices as well as the convent. “We loved living together,” Sister Anne said. The Sisters became so well known for their support of the annual Verboort Sausage Dinner that they were profiled in The Oregonian newspaper in 2013. Proceeds from the dinner provide substantial support for Visitation Catholic School.

“It’s wonderful to see all of the people and watch their faces light up,” said Sister Anne. “Even if rain is pouring down, they wait in line for the sausage. Then they line up for the sauerkraut. It’s exciting to see so many people come to Verboort from so many different places.” Today, the Sisters Vandecoevering live in the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse. Sister Alison Green lives in the convent area at Visitation. On September 24, 2017, Visitation Catholic Church honored the Vandecoevering Sisters during a Mass and luncheon. Fr. Michael Vuky is pastor at the church. During his homily, he praised the Sisters – whom he affectionately calls “the blessed Vandecoevering trinity” – and thanked them for their ministry.


Opposite page (top): The Sisters Vandecoevering and three grandnieces at Visitation Parish Center. Left to right: Jessica (Vandecoevering) Hyde, Sister Anne, Sarah (Vandecoevering) Crosby, Sister Clare, Bethany (Vandecoevering) Stewart and Sister Agnes Marie. Opposite page (bottom): The Sisters Vandecoevering in front of the SSMO Motherhouse in 1958. This page: The Sisters Vandecoevering enjoy a panoramic view of Florence, Italy, and its historic Duomo. Childhood photos of (left to right) Sister Clare, Sister Anne and Sister Agnes Marie.

To enjoy a video about the Sisters Vandecoevering and Sister Alison Green in Verboort and Roy, visit youtube.com/valleycatholicschool


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On this page (top to bottom): Sister Ignatia Reverman (center) and Sister Lucille Vandehey and Sister Genevieve VanderVelden (right) in Verboort (circa 1907-08). Sister Raphael Tavelli teaching in Roy. St. Francis of Assisi School (circa 1960).



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a legacy of ministry


n January 1891, three Precious Blood Sisters from a recently founded religious community in Sublimity, Oregon, were missioned to serve in a Dutch Catholic settlement that became known as Verboort. They established a convent and began teaching. It was the first mission of the religious community that would become the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. On January 24, 2016, the Visitation Parish community in Verboort honored the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon on the 125th anniversary of their arrival, thanking them for their continuous service over the years.

Top: Sister Agnes O’Rourke and Sister Loyola Schmitz in front of the school in Verboort (circa 1910-11). Inset: The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon are honored at Visitation Parish in January 2016.

Noting that Sisters Agnes and Alexia O’Rourke saved many lives in the Verboort community when they changed from teachers to nurses during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1917, SSMO Superior General Sister Charlene Herinckx shared excerpts from Sister Agnes O’Rourke’s memories. She concluded with these words: “From our archival records, approximately 125 Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have served this wonderful faith-filled community since 1891. The total number of

years served by those Sisters is around 440. Thank you for sharing your lives and your faith with us. We feel honored and privileged to be part of your lives. We are grateful for all that you have shared with us, especially the women from this parish who have committed themselves to be Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.”


Legacy: Valley Catholic Spirit

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A sense of belonging A

smile from a Sister on the first day of school. The warmth of a Sister’s Jubilee. A vision of opportunities for success. Those unique experiences drew Jennifer Gfroerer ’87, Krista Jacobson ’95 and Melissa Doxtator ’02 to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus as students. Today, they have all returned to the campus as principals at Valley Catholic School.

Nurturing a new generation of students, they remain inspired by – and grateful to – those who came before them.


Jennifer Passadore Gfroerer ‘87 It required a special drive for Jennifer Passadore to attend high school on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. Literally. Growing up in Damascus, Oregon, she attended Christ the King Elementary School in Milwaukie. “It’s a parish school but it was run by the Sisters then,” she said. “Sister Noreen Orazio and Sister Marianne Giesel were there during my early years. Sister Anna Hertel and Sister Clare Vandecoevering assumed those roles during the second part of my schooling there and became family friends.”

She spent four years on the staff of the school newspaper, serving as co-editor for two years. She took part in basketball, choir, softball, cross country and track. She was a Eucharistic minister and retreat leader, winning the Mystical Rose award twice. That award is given to a student who exemplifies Christian values and serves selflessly. By the time she graduated from high school in 1987, she had “fallen in love with the Bay Area” and knew that she wanted to attend college in California. With a president’s scholarship and her role on the college basketball team, she earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame de Namur University) in Belmont, California. “It was perfect,” she said. “It was known for business and teaching. They had incredible connections including exchange programs with Berkeley and Stanford.”

She was in the sixth grade when Sister Anna Hertel celebrated her 25th Jubilee. “I had never been on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus before,” she said. “The Jubilee reception was held at the high school.” She added, “Christ the King shares a campus with La Salle High School so I was expected to go to school there. But I came to the Sisters’ campus and fell in love with it.” The distance was a problem. “My dad worked in Milwaukie and it’s a long drive,” she said. “I was able to get a special license that allowed me to drive only on certain roads. If I flexed my hours or made any stops, I had to get special permission. They wanted me to take it seriously.” She did.

She began her teaching career in Morgan Hill, California, located near San Jose. “I joined a kindergarten through eighth-grade Catholic school which was opening a new middle school,” she said. “I was part of a team of three that got to learn how to write the curriculum and go through the state standards. It was an amazing experience, especially considering how young I was at the time.” That experience served her well when she returned to Oregon, where St. Clare School in Portland was preparing to add a middle school to its kindergarten through fifth-grade program. John Matcovich was the principal. He is now president of Valley Catholic School. “My role was to develop the curriculum for every subject area and align it to state and archdiocesan standards," Gfroerer said.



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After giving birth to her first child, Jennifer Gfroerer planned to “move out of administration to focus on being a parent. But Valley Catholic needed a middle school dean and the rest is history.”


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Krista Gram Jacobson ‘95 “Life’s about changes, nothing stays the same.” That quote appears next to Krista Gram’s senior photo in the 1995 Valley Catholic High School yearbook. The yearbook theme: “Our place in time.” Since 2014, Krista Gram Jacobson ’95 has found her place in time back on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) campus, where she now serves as principal of Valley Catholic Elementary School.

As principal of Valley Catholic Middle School, Gfroerer embraces the legacy of those who inspired her: “We’re here for the Sisters and their mission.” She adds, “I believe that’s why we are different from other Catholic schools. That’s why I wanted my children to attend Valley Catholic. You may not be able to put it into words but you know that you fit. It’s a home.”

Attending St. Cecilia School in Beaverton, she had only limited knowledge about the Sisters’ campus. “I played some CYO sports here but I didn’t know much else about it,” she said. When it was time to choose a high school, everything changed. “My parents knew that I was willing to continue in Catholic education,” she said. “I visited another school but it wasn’t the right environment. When I visited St. Mary of the Valley, as it was known at the time, I couldn’t describe it at the time but the feeling, the atmosphere and the friendliness really drew me in. I thought: ‘This is a place where I could take advantage of a lot of opportunities – perhaps for the first time – and have success.’” It was only after she made her decision that her parents told her that her great-grandmother, Elsie Murphy, had ties to the Sisters. “They didn’t want to influence my decision,” she said.

Gfroerer earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree in Liberal Studies/Curriculum from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. With a concentration in neuroeducation, she anticipates completing her Doctor of Education (EdD) degree at the University of Portland in the summer of 2020. Her personal and professional journey is still deeply connected to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. “As much as my parents, the Sisters have been there for me throughout my life,” she said. “That helped form who I was, and that formed how I have taught. During every significant decision in my life, the Sisters were walking with me.”


She was right about having new opportunities at Valley Catholic. “As a freshman, I was in choir, led by Sister Juliana Monti,” she said. “I had never been in choir before. But the program was set up so that someone with no experience in choir could join, be successful and enjoy it.”

class dressed as Queen Elizabeth,” she said. “It was so much fun. Because of what we were doing, I probably learned more about history – without really knowing that I was learning.” She continued her studies at Western Oregon University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. “I went to Western Oregon University specifically for their teaching program,” she said. “After I finished my undergraduate degree, I got my teaching license. My first teaching job was at St. Vincent DePaul School in Salem. While I taught there, I worked toward my master’s degree in teaching with an endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). I then went to the University of Oregon to get my administrator’s license.”

While Sister Juliana led the choir, Sister John Therese Miller led the orchestra. “She and Sister Juliana guided us,” she said. “We traveled and performed. One year, we went to San Francisco. Another year, we went to Victoria. And we traveled together – boys and girls – because ours was the first coed class at Valley Catholic.” Krista Jacobson still sings in the choir at her church. She praises retired teacher Phil McQueen for bringing history to life. “He wanted us to fully experience what we were reading about,” she said. “His passion and excitement were contagious. As a senior, I audited his class as an elective, seeking more information and perspective about history.” She also remembers former SSMO Sister Pauline Rose, who taught religion. “She would come into our history



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After 10 years at St. Anthony School in Tigard, Jacobson returned to the SSMO campus in 2014 as vice principal of Valley Catholic Elementary School. She then served as principal of the early learning school before returning to the elementary school as principal.


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Melissa Gates Doxtator ‘02 It was her first day of kindergarten and five-yearold Missy Gates was nervous. Then, as she entered a big empty hallway, she saw someone in the distance. “Sister Fidelis Kreutzer was there,” she remembered. “She gave me a big smile.”

She hopes that some of today’s students will consider a career in education. “It’s not just about school or about being in a

Today, Melissa Gates Doxtator ’02 is principal of Valley Catholic Early Learning School and she is the person who provides a big smile and a warm welcome for the youngest students on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. “Over the years, Sister Fidelis became one of my dearest and closest friends,” said Doxtator. “I was confirmed when I went to college and my mom asked Sister Rose Dolores [Costello] and Sister Fidelis to write a letter for my Confirmation. It was so moving and very, very sweet. I still have it.”

building and following directions,” she said. “It’s about the experience. It’s how you can impact someone’s life – how you can plant seeds that grow over many, many years.”

After graduating from Valley Catholic, she continued her education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “The values and the mission of the Sisters’ campus became core to who I am as a person,” she said. “Going to a Catholic university was very important to me.”

She added, “You’re sharing knowledge to help children grow. But it’s not just about the information they are learning. They’re becoming people. They’re members of our community. That’s what community means in education. It’s about giving back. I’m taking all of the good experiences that I was blessed with as a student and giving that to another generation.”

She graduated from Marquette in 2006 and remained in Milwaukee, earning a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Cardinal Stritch University. She began her educational career as a teacher at St. Anthony School, a kindergarten through eighthgrade school in Milwaukee, helping them add a high school and later serving as an administrator.

“This campus is where I’m supposed to be,” said Jacobson. She has found her place in time.

After deciding to return home to Oregon, she served as principal at St. Joseph School in Salem for three years.


But while many things have changed, the most important things are the same. “So much of the staff is the same,” said Doxtator. “So many of my teachers are still here. As a parent who has children in our school, that tells me that this is a strong community. These teachers want to stay here. They love this community. You can feel the mission and the community everywhere on this campus.”

“I always wanted to be a teacher and always wanted to come back to Valley Catholic,” she said. “But I didn’t seem to find out about openings until they were filled.” She decided to reach out directly to Bob Weber, who was then president of Valley Catholic School. She told him that she would love to come back to Valley Catholic if her skills and experience ever fit a need at the school. Finally, her timing was perfect.

That translates into how people treat each other. “As you walk around our campus, everyone is friendly,” she said. “Everyone says hello. Everyone is willing to help if you need it. The love for each other is very, very strong.” As she thinks about her own role in educating students, she thinks about the impact of Sister Fidelis and Sister Rose Dolores on her life. “I feel that their mission is at the core of who I am,” she said. “And I want that to be at the core of who other people are – especially at this time in our world. I hope that I do justice to the mission of the Sisters and that I help everyone – my students, our staff, and the families that walk through these doors – feel strongly about making this community the best that it can be.”

“My time here taught me a lot about the Sisters’ mission and caring for other people,” she said. “The Sisters inspire me to be everything I can be and to care for others. In my day, we didn’t talk about today’s core value – living valiantly – but we strived to do that as a community.” As Missy Gates, she was part of the Valley Catholic softball team that won the state championship in 2001. “Athletics are at a whole new level since my time as a student,” she said. “Having the new athletic field is exciting for our student athletes and families. When I was in school, we were lucky to go to state. Today, many of our teams compete at state. That’s wonderful.”

Pages 10 & 13: Jennifer Passadore Gfroerer ‘87, Krista Gram Jacobson ’95 and Melissa Gates Doxtator ’02 share jackets, yearbooks and memories. Page 15 (top): Melissa Gates (center) raises the trophy as the Valiants celebrate their 2001 softball state championship. © Jaime Valdez Photography. Additional school and graduation photos from Miriam yearbooks and courtesy of Melissa Doxtator, Jennifer Gfroerer and Krista Jacobson.



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Leo Ebuen (right) and Maryville resident Hope Allison say they share a special bond of friendship.


This is my calling hen Leonila Ebuen walked into the lobby of Maryville for the first time, Sister Geraldine Bernards was there to greet her. “She was standing by the fish tank and smiling,” Ebuen remembered. Ebuen’s life would never be the same.


For 14 months, she spent half of her time at Maryville and half at the other facility. But she wasn’t happy. “I would go to the other facility and cry,” she said. One day her husband said, “Go back to where you are happy.” She did. She has served at Maryville ever since.

Born in Manila, Philippines, Ebuen graduated from Manila’s Far Eastern University in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She worked in the Philippines as a clinical instructor and as a staff nurse.

For over 10 years, as Ebuen worked as a certified nursing assistant, Sister Geraldine kept reminding her: “Leo, get your credentials as a registered nurse.” Finally, she took the exam to become a registered nurse. She passed. “I’ve never been so happy,” she said. “Sister Geraldine was so happy.”

In 1989, she came to the United States with her husband and three children. She didn’t have a U.S. nursing license and didn’t know where she would work.

“ At Maryville, we are a family.” – Leo Ebuen

“A friend suggested that I become a certified nursing assistant (CNA),” she said. She was offered a position at another health care facility but her sister-in-law encouraged her to work at Maryville because “it is committed to the values of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.”

“We don’t have nursing homes in the Philippines,” she said. “This was my first job in a skilled nursing facility and I know this is my calling.”

“I had graduated from an elementary school run by German Sisters,” she said. “I literally grew up, through high school, with the Holy Spirit Sisters.”

“In the Philippines, we take care of our family,” she added. “Neighbors are family. At Maryville, we are a family.”

Sister Geraldine Bernards, who spent 23 years as director of nursing and 10 years as Maryville’s administrator, encouraged Ebuen to obtain her license as a registered nurse in the United States. But Ebuen wasn’t ready.

Ebuen is proud to be part of Sister Geraldine’s legacy at Maryville. She plans to continue to be part of the Maryville family as a volunteer after her retirement in 2018.

“When we arrived in the United States, my children were 16, 14 and 10,” she said. “Everything was new. New place. New job. New friends. New everything. I was so scared.”

Father John Domin was chaplain at Maryville for almost 18 years. “One day, I stopped Father Domin in the hall,” Ebuen said. “I said, ‘I’m sorry but I can’t go to Mass. I have too many patients to care for.’ He gave me a blessing and said, ‘I give you an absolute pardon because working with the elderly is serving God.’”

To provide additional support for her family, Ebuen accepted a CNA position at another health care facility. “But when I gave my notice to Sister Geraldine, she never accepted my resignation,” she said.

With a smile, Ebuen added, “I think it is too.”



Fall 2017 | Winter 2018 Colleagues and friends: Director of Pastoral Care Sister Josephine Pelster, Roxie Dyer and retired nurse Sister Theresa Ann Bunker in the Maryville chapel.


We are all human Growing up, Roxie Dyer thought she wanted to be a teacher.

In 2000, she was ready for a new challenge. “I’d been away from bedsides for a long time doing training,” she said. “I wanted to get back to working with patients and doctors.” She spent 15 years with a nursing consultation company, learning about regulatory compliance and enhancing her assessment skills as she helped facilities that were struggling to provide highquality care.

“I was raised on Pumpkin Ridge,” she said. “My dad was a farmer and I attended a small school. I explored being a teaching assistant but decided it wasn’t a direction that I wanted to follow. Then I thought about becoming a nurse.”

In 1976, that dream led her to Maryville. “When I walked in the door, Sister Geraldine Bernards welcomed me,” she said. “I told her, ‘I think I want to be a nurse.’ She hired me and I got on-the-job training as a certified nursing assistant.”

By 2016, she was ready to stop traveling and come home – to her family and to Maryville. She believes that all of her experiences have prepared her for her current role as quality assurance coordinator. “I know that a lot of people look things up online today,” she said. “Google can be a useful tool but there’s a lot to be learned from the experience – the legacy – of those who have traveled the path before us.”

After earning her nursing degree, she worked at Providence St. Vincent Hospital as a coronary care nurse. She stepped away from her career to raise two young children.

That includes Maryville Administrator Sister Geraldine Bernards. “Maryville was her lifelong mission,” said Dyer. “It represents a place where people come for comfort, care and recovery. Maryville is a place of trust and a place where people feel safe and cared for.”

When she was ready to return to work, Sister Geraldine was there – again – to welcome her. Dyer was hired as Maryville’s director of staff development in 1994. “It was very important to Sister Geraldine that we provide week-long educational opportunities for the community and for our own staff, ” she said. “We focused on resident care, including care for residents with dementia.”

As for her own legacy, she hopes that people remember her as someone they felt comfortable reaching out to – someone who would steer them in the right direction – as Sister Geraldine did for her. “Each employee is a treasure,” she said. “It takes each one of us coming to work each day with a true desire to provide excellent care and services to everyone who resides here.”

“Sister Geraldine also felt it was very important that our own staff members have the opportunity to learn English,” Dyer added. “She asked me to become an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher so I could offer weekly classes at Maryville. Staff members would come to the classroom after their scheduled shifts. They loved it.”

“One of my favorite thoughts was learned from a child,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are all human.”


1 Spirit

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CELEBRATING GOD AND LIFE Every year, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus community comes together for special events that celebrate the rich history of the campus and its vibrant life today.


In July, Sisters who are celebrating significant anniversaries of service are honored during a Jubilee Mass and reception. Fall brings newer traditions including the Alumni Tailgate Party before a Valiant football game and the Whole in One Golf Tournament, benefiting the Sisters, Maryville and Valley Catholic. Together, these signature events honor the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.

1 Valley Catholic student ambassadors show

their spirit at the 2017 Whole in One Golf Tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

2 Sister Patricia Marie Landin (center) was

honored for 50 years of ministry during the 2017 Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Jubilee.

3 Big smiles at the 2017 Alumni Tailgate Party


(left to right): Alumni parent Debbie Gates joins Emily Keagbine ’07 and Emily’s fiancé Kyle Connor.


5 4 & 5 At the 2017 Whole


in One Golf Tournament, Greg Gilbert of title sponsor Independent Dispatch Inc. and SSMO Foundation Executive Director Tricia Blood show their Valiant pride. SSMO Superior General Sister Charlene Herinckx and VCS President John Matcovich.

6 Dorothy Sutter ’42

celebrated the 75th year since her graduation by attending the 2017 Alumni Tailgate Party with her daughter, Linda Faller, and with granddaughter Lori Keeth.


7 Dan Mallea and Bishop

Kenneth Steiner at the Whole in One Golf Tournament.

8 Sister Paula Fox (right) receives congratulations at her 60th Jubilee.

9 '77 alumnae celebrate

their reunion. Left to right: Jan Steinbock, Tara Bassett, Siobhan Loughran Taylor, Jill Sheerin Shields and Jenifer Vennes Hiatt.



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pretty much the last ambassadorial family still there,” she said. “During the siege of Beirut we lived in the basement of a temporary house outside the city. Our family often had to rely on personal bodyguards and we moved about in bullet-proofed vehicles.” The Beirut airport had been closed for months due to the conflict but opened by the beginning of summer in 1983. “My father had to stay but my mother, my three siblings and I were evacuated during that summer and taken to Cyprus,” she said. Her father has two younger brothers who, in the late 1960s, had traveled to Oregon to study at Willamette University. They still live in Oregon with their families. “My father’s posting was about to end and he was going to be pulled out of Lebanon,” Babar said. “We decided that we would go to America and to a place – Oregon – where we had family. We would spend a few months there, relaxing after our time in a war zone. Our father would join us and we would find out what his next posting would be.”


Instead, her father had to stay in Beirut for another six months. Then, because of his experience in conflict zones, he was posted as Pakistani ambassador to Iran. It was 1983 and the country was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War.

“Migration isn’t always a happy story,” notes Zahra Babar ’86. “You give up a lot. Most people go out of desperation. They don’t have choices.”

Her parents were torn. “It was a very difficult time because we had never split up the family,” she said. “We always felt that, wherever he was posted, we would stay together. But the situation in Tehran was turbulent. We had just spent four years in a conflict zone. My parents didn’t want to bring us back into a war zone.”

She and her family were luckier than many. They had choices. Those choices led Zahra Babar to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus and, ultimately, to the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Babar’s father was a diplomat – an ambassador for Pakistan who was renowned for serving in conflict zones. In 1980, when Babar was just 10, her father was posted as Pakistan’s ambassador to Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. “By 1982 we were


“What we got to experience in our three-and-a-half years in Oregon was a kind of timeout from the instability we had experienced in Lebanon,” she said. “We were all a little shell-shocked. Today, we would describe it as different forms of post-traumatic stress disorder.” “Being in Portland was like being in a little cocoon – something out of a book,” she said. “Everything was so peaceful. My brother, who was 10 at the time, kept asking why no one had any guns and why there were no soldiers because that’s all he had as a reference point.”

Qatar occupies the small peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The capital, Doha, is known for its futuristic skyscrapers and other ultramodern architecture inspired by ancient Islamic design, such as the Museum of Islamic Art.

When it was time to choose a school, her uncle recommended St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic). “He knew that it was a Catholic school run by Sisters,” she said. “That made it very attractive to us. In our part of the world – in India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia – there is a strong tradition of faithbased schools. Many were established under British rule. In Lebanon, I studied at a British Quaker school.”

Today, Zahra Babar is associate director for research in the Center for International and Regional Studies of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar. Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institute of higher learning in the United States.

She noted, “Our family believed strongly that the best schools are faith-based because they offer an excellent education plus values and a disciplinary code.” They were also drawn to St. Mary of the Valley because of its size. “My mother wanted us to experience a smaller school where you have more engagement between students and teachers,” she said.

“Although it is a large, forward-thinking researchbased institution, I was immediately comfortable because there is a strong sense that you are doing service for others,” Babar said. “That’s a message that was very familiar to me. I am a practicing Muslim and service is very much a part of our value system. And it’s something that definitely resonated from my years at St. Mary of the Valley. Beyond what we learned in the classroom, there were so many events that were crafted around service for others. I felt very safe and comfortable in an environment where there was respect for faith and religion – where having faith dictated a large part of the way you think and behave.

“I had always been advanced academically beyond my age group,” she said. “I was 13 when I entered my freshman year, so I was younger than everybody else.” She thought she would attend school at St. Mary of the Valley for a few months. Instead, she graduated with the class of 1986.



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“In the last 17-18 years, the lack of understanding about religions has increased. That’s especially true regarding what Islam has come to mean in Western society. In addition, a lot of Muslims don’t understand Christianity. People in some Western countries don’t embrace faith. I think what helps me on a daily basis is the fact that I spent my formative years with people who were deeply devout. There were differences in ritual and practices – differences in how we worship the Divine – but it was essentially the same to me.”


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She added, “I’m most interested in inequality. I grew up in nine different countries, seeing the diversity in what people have. And I don’t mean just financially. Depending on where you are born, you have certain political, economic, cultural and social resources – or you don’t. “People migrate mostly because of inequality. If they are moving for political reasons, it’s because the political circumstances where they are just aren’t working. If they’re moving for economic reasons, it’s because, where they’re based, they don’t have the ability to do well economically. It’s true for cultural and social reasons as well.” She is grateful for the experiences she has had and for the opportunity to call attention to the plight of others. “I have had the privilege of living in so many different parts of the world, making friends and getting to know people in many different contexts,” she said. “When we went to Portland, we were lucky. We didn’t go as war refugees as others from Lebanon would have.” “I’m in Qatar right now as a choice,” she added. “Some of us are luckier than others. We get to choose where we want to go.”

Zahra Babar (second from left) joins colleagues at the Georgetown University Center for International and Regional Studies in Qatar. Hailing from countries including the Philippines and Nepal, service workers and staff members are “part of the large, diverse group of migrant workers that make up much of the Qatari population.”

Her faith continues to influence her work. “I continue to work in areas that are complicated around the politics of the Middle East, where religion is such a hot issue,” she said. “I work on migration, issues of identity and belonging, citizenship, what it means to be included and to not to be included. My primary research work has focused on migrants who come to the Arab world.”

Zahra Babar (front left) with the French Honor Society. (Photo from the 1985-86 Miriam Yearbook.) She stays in "regular contact with Sister Krista von Borstel, who was so kind to me when I was a student."



Helen Riverman Mason ’38 currently resides in Tigard, Oregon. After she graduated from high school, Helen went to work as part of the National Youth Administration (NYA) implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Over the years, she had several different jobs including being a telephone operator and a bookkeeper. One of her fondest memories is her visit to the Holy Land in the 90s. During that trip, she attended a Mass presided over by Pope John Paul II. Helen described it as “an incredible experience” that helped deepen her faith. These days, she enjoys baking zucchini bread and knitting dishcloths for her nieces and nephews.

Celeste Finegan Harding ’93 successfully completed her first Boston Marathon on April 17, 2017. She had qualified in summer 2016 after running in her first two marathons. Celeste says, “Since high school, my love for running has never changed. Thank you, Valley Catholic, for teaching me that you can achieve what you dream.” Celeste is married with two children and says she spends her free time supporting her children in achieving their own goals. She owns a small business which allows her to live the “outdoor lifestyle” in Redmond, Oregon.


Amanda Pinzon ’05 married Zack Fay on September 3, 2017. The bridal party included two Valley Catholic alumnae: Katie Brempelis ’05 and Caitlin Park Shin ’05. Zack and Amanda met in first grade at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic Elementary School). They lost touch through high school and college but reconnected in Portland after college graduation. Amanda graduated from Santa Clara University in 2009 and is working as a physician’s assistant at Providence Newberg Medical Group. Zach graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 and is a business development representative for Wells Fargo. They are living in Tualatin with their dog, Barley.


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Mary Sue Haener ’06 and Derek Wolf were married on August 5, 2017 at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, Oregon. The reception took place at her parents’ farm in Aurora. Mary Sue teaches fourth grade at St. Luke Catholic School. Derek is a hop broker for Willamette Valley Hops. They now reside in Woodburn, Oregon. Mary Sue’s bridal party included all six of her sisters: Jeannine Haener Eisenbacher ’93, Julie Haener Wilde ’94, Kelli Haener Wilde ’96, Katie Haener Ludlow ’98, Margie Haener Barnett ’00 and Mollie Haener Fessler ’03.

After dating for nearly nine years, Tara Baglai ’08 and Brian Hargis were married in August 2017. The wedding was held in Oregon at the Troutdale House. Tara’s maid of honor was her sister, Rebecca Baglai ’12. Tara is a graduate of Concordia University and works as an indirect relationship officer for OnPoint Community Credit Union headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

On May 9, 2017, Sean Walsh ’07 and Caitlin Rossetti Walsh ’07 welcomed their baby boy, Benjamin Patrick Walsh, and baby girl, Eleanor Kaylynn Walsh. Benjamin doubled his sister’s weight at 6.9 pounds while Ellie weighed 3.3 pounds. Both spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, where Megan Hoffman ’04 was their nurse. The twins are now thriving, and Sean and Caitlin are enjoying being first-time parents.

Melanie Rossetti ’09 graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) with a master’s degree in educational administration and a focus in leadership. She paid for her education by working as a graduate assistant for sport clubs and youth programs at UNL. She recently accepted a position as the coordinator of competitive sports & youth programs at Washington State University. Melanie also assists in various roles at PAC-12 volleyball, basketball and football games. Tom Chinick ’09 graduated from George Washington University in 2015 with a master’s degree in space policy. Motivated to succeed in that highly competitive industry, Tom interned and networked. He currently works in Washington D.C. at Euroconsult, the leading global consulting firm in the space and satellite industries. Tom noted, “However long I continue to work in this field, I’ll always be grateful for the experience.”



Jena Sepich Schultz ’09 graduated from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in May 2017 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a 4.0 GPA. She is now working as a pediatric physical therapist in Dallas, Texas. She plans on working in home health and school-based pediatrics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the next few years and looks forward to helping children in need achieve their full potential.

An early childhood development specialist and an AMI Primary Diploma holder, Mary Da Prato ’09 just published her 26th book for parents and children. A number of Mary’s books are available at public libraries throughout the country, including Washington County (Oregon) Cooperative Library Services.

Pursuing a career move into public health, Carolyn Cartwright ’09 landed a job with the Spokane Regional Health District in the summer of 2017. She decided to take time for personal pursuit before starting the new job: her first solo bike tour. In late July, she took six days to ride the Selkirk International Loop – a 320-mile route spanning Washington, Idaho and Canada. Carolyn carried all her own gear with no vehicle support and stayed at campgrounds, hostels and in backyards. “It was an incredible and beautiful trip,” she shared. “It forced me to face the vulnerability and courage that it takes to pursue what you’re being called to do – whether on a bike or in the office.”

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High school classmates Mark Yorke ’09 and Michael Lyons ’09 hiked around Three Fingered Jack in August 2017. The loop around the Oregon volcano includes a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Mark and Michael spent three days on the backpacking trip, exploring central Oregon in an area which has been severely affected by wildfires in recent years.


VCS_Alumni QUESTIONS: alumni@valleycatholic.org



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school and a fellowship from the Hydro Research Foundation. Elliott has accepted a position with Power Engineers in Madison, Wisconsin. David received his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree at University of Idaho. He is currently working for Intel in Oregon.

Charles Purdy ’11 and his wife Branwen were married on October 2, 2016, at Langdon Farms in Aurora, Oregon. Two of his high school classmates, David Barry ’11 and Elliot Jackson ’11, served as groomsmen. Charles and Branwen currently reside in Wilsonville, Oregon. Charles works as a structural engineer for Kestrel Engineering. Branwen is pursuing her master’s degree and Ph.D. in mathematics at Oregon State University.

Friends since their freshmen year at Valley Catholic, Elliott Jackson ’11 and David Barry ’11 walked across the stage – one after another – to receive their Master of Electrical Engineering degrees on June 16, 2017, at Oregon State University (OSU). Elliott completed his bachelor’s degree at University of Portland. He received a full-ride scholarship from OSU’s graduate

Liz Kiefer ’11 and Nick McDevitt ’11 were married on July 22, 2017, at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Beaverton, Oregon. Liz and Nick met during their junior year of high school when he transferred to Valley Catholic. The wedding party included several Valley Catholic alumni: Nichole Kiefer Mischke ’06, Chris Kiefer ’09, Joe Kiefer ’16, Bailey McDevitt ’15, Anna Harris ’11 and Rothanak Chan ’11. Nick is working as a footwear developer at Nike. Liz is the Alumni Relations Manager at the SSMO Foundation.

On July 29, 2017, Kindra Mills ’11 and Zander Veith were married at J. Wrigley Vineyards in Sheridan, Oregon. Kira Mills ’08 and Holden Richards ’11 were members of the bridal party. Kindra and Zander met at a gym about four years ago. Kindra is currently attending graduate school at Pacific University. She is working toward two degrees: a master’s in healthcare administration and a doctorate degree in audiology.



Garcia ’12 and several current and former Valley Catholic faculty: Ian Berge, Jeremy Grondin, Pat Thomas and Nicholas Vigo. They placed 13th out of 400 relay teams.

On August 11, 2017, Ayesha Khader ’11 was welcomed into the medical community during the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2021. Ayesha graduated from Oregon State University in 2015 with a degree in bioengineering. She is undecided on a specific field of medicine but looks forward to exploring various fields during her four years of schooling. A number of Valley Catholic community members competed on a Hood to Coast relay team in August 2017. The team included Connor

’12, Breanne Davis ’12 and Monica Vinson ’12. Carmel recently graduated from Pacific University and received her master’s degree in social work. Andy Holstrom ’12 and Rebecca Mion met three years ago while attending the University of Portland. Andy proposed to Rebecca on top of a waterfall while backpacking through Yosemite National Park. They were married at the McMenamins Roadhouse in Hillsboro, Oregon, on June 24, 2017.

In July 2017, Carmel Davis ’12 and Bryan Nicol were married at Rock Creek Country Club in Portland. The wedding reception was purposefully reminiscent of their high school junior prom, which was their first date. The theme: “Dancing in the Moonlight.” All three bridesmaids were Valley Catholic alumnae: Autumn Davis

In July 2013, Tori Johnson ’13 moved to Washington D.C. after accepting a job offer as a research specialist for CNA’s Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research and development center serving the Department of the Navy and other defense agencies. Tori graduated with a bachelor's degree from Colorado College in May 2017. She majored in international environmental policy and minored in Russian studies.





F E B R U A R Y 110, 0 , 22018 018 FEBRUARY


The OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation challenged Valley Catholic to raise $35,000 for tuition assistance and endowment. Together, our community exceeded that goal! The Weston Foundation will match these gifts dollar-for-dollar.





" With a gift in my will, I can make a difference for future generations."

With a simple gift, you can help continue the legacy of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and those they serve at Valley Catholic School and Maryville. To learn more about planned giving opportunities, please contact the SSMO Foundation at 503-718-6485 or at tblood@ssmoministries.org

4440 SW 148th Avenue Beaverton, OR 97078 ssmoministries.org



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hen Sister Thanh Pham entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) novitiate program on August 14, 2017, she became part of the impressive family connections in the SSMO Community across generations. Her aunt is Sister Rosina Pham, who took her perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon one day later. That makes Sister Thanh the 25th Sister of St. Mary of Oregon who is the niece of another Sister in the SSMO Community. Family ties among aunts and nieces run deep throughout SSMO history. Eleven Sisters are grandnieces of other Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. They include Sister Anna Evers, Sister Alberta Schwall, Sister Evelyn Schwall and Sister Jean Marie VanDyke. They are all grandnieces of Mother Juliana Hermens, who led the SSMO Community from 1919-1931. Mother Juliana even has one greatgrandniece in the SSMO Community: Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen. Through their family ties and their service, these Sisters represent a rich legacy of faith, ministry and spirit.